Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I've finished edits and kind of in between projects while I try and figure out what I want to do next. The smart thing would be to tackle one of the many WIPs on my computer, right, lol? If only I was that smart...

Actually, this is one of the few that I'm considering. It's an m/m historical set at the end of WWII called "I Will Sing You Morning." It's one of those that I love but then remember all the research that's involved and wonder if I have time to tackle the way it should be.

This is the very beginning:

*****

Until the man screamed, Josiah Ladley thought the nurses had put a corpse in the bed next to him. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Though the bigwigs were constantly ordering new construction, more wounded came pouring into Fort McHenry from the Western Front every day. Beds were at a premium. Sometimes, there just wasn’t anyplace else to put a body.

This one wasn’t dead, though. In the wee hours of the morning, when the ward held its breath in anticipation of dawn, a choked cry erupted into shouts, loud enough, clear enough, pained enough to yank Josiah from sleep.

He bolted from the bed, immediately alert as the trenches had taught him, and knelt in the darkness, groping blindly for the writhing man. His hands skidded over the shirt glued by perspiration to the man’s chest, the fabric cool, the body hot. Not blood, he reminded himself. Night sweats. Big difference.

“Hey. Buddy.” He finally found his shoulders and shook him carefully. He had no idea where his injuries were, and he didn’t need the nurses scolding him for trying to help. “Wake up.”

Eyelids shot open. Josiah couldn’t see him clearly, but what little light filtered through the small, high windows made his eyes glow as his body went rigid.

“What…where…”

The questions were just puffs of air, barely formed and quickly called back. A hand emerged from beneath the blanket and clamped over Josiah’s wrist. The strength in the grip was enough to loosen his hold, and he sat back onto his heels as the man slowly turned his head to look at him.

“You were dreaming.” Just because he’d been screaming wasn’t reason to think he might actually remember what it was about. It might be better all around if he didn’t, actually. Josiah had a few of those he’d be more than glad to see the back of. “You need me to call a nurse or something?”

The man didn’t let go. His fingers wore calluses like armor. His gaze remained unblinking, and Josiah would have added unseeing if it wasn’t fixed purposefully on him. Whatever had been wounded, it hadn’t been his arm or sight. But there were a legion more places on a man’s body to bear the aegis of war.

“No,” came the quiet answer. “Don’t get no one.”

The accent was broad and flat, but Josiah had talked to enough soldiers overseas to know it came from someplace in the Midwest. He’d bet this one was a farm boy, gone off to defend the beliefs his country stood for, against Krauts and others he’d never heard of before the Great War. For some reason, though he’d known a lot of greenhorns, he regretted this one suffered from nightmares awful enough to make him scream. Even if they all screamed.

“You can let me go anytime,” he joked, jiggling his arm a little. He waited until the broad fingers uncurled then fell limply back to the bed, before sticking out his hand. “I’m Josiah.”

“Bill.”

Though Bill hadn’t returned his greeting, it was good enough to know his name. “You sure you don’t need me to get you anything? It’s not a bother. Maybe a glass of water or something.”

“No, no.” These denials were firmer. “I just want to go back to sleep.”

“The nurses can give you—”

“The nurses can’t do nothing for me. Neither can you. Leave me alone.”

The last thing Josiah wanted to do was to leave Bill alone so he could return to the nightmares that would wake up the whole ward next time. He didn’t really have much choice, though. A man who didn’t want help would fight it every step of the way. Josiah was too tired to be the one to try and fight back.

He stood and nodded, though Bill wouldn’t be able to see it in the dark. “You need anything, I’m right here.” His leg hit the cold bedframe as he edged back. “Have a good night, Bill.”

Slipping back beneath his blankets, he couldn’t even hear the other man’s breathing. Maybe he was a dead man, after all.

With night sweats.

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